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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Let it Rain

Finally, some rain. After a dry spell even the cold and wet is a welcome relief.

Today I'm helping load more books for shipment to kids in South Africa who don't have any. Americans feeling sorry for themselves need only look around the world to realize how lucky we are, even in a recession.

Yet they are ahead of us in some respects. At an international law seminar I heard a South African attorney describe the banking situation in South Africa. He said that, unlike U.S. and European banks who took big chances on derivatives, etc, banks in South Africa are relatively healthy because they stayed away from hedge funds, etc.

He has a point.

I also attended a GHP event on Singapore, which wants to be a key gateway to Asia. Other than Hong Kong, it is. They have $$$ and high technology and are looking for a way to combine ours with theirs. This is another way America can rebound--by becoming more international. A U.S. technology company that needs capital (and markets) could use their financing--and Asia would also be a market for many technologies, so it could be a two-way street.

That would also be better than the past model of shipping all our raw material to Asia to be returned as cars and computers, which we bought with borrowed money(mostly from China, who is worried about its $1 trillion investment in U.S. bonds).

We need a return to entrepreneurship and a global marketing perspective to really get us back in the global game as a leader.

A recession could have a positive fallout if it makes people realize that. If they don't, then the road down protectionism will be a classic repeat of the increased tariffs of the Hoover years that created the Great Depression.

Sometimes a recession and a layoff makes people think about stuff they never did before because they were too busy to think. Sometimes it provides a career change that ends up enriching your life.

Americans in the past decade got too used to the good times when you didn't have to think about survival. Over-consumption became the norm. At one point, Houston was the fattest city in the U.S. A recession has a way of correcting that problem.

A friend of mine in the Midwest, who was once a TV producer, is now a budding entrepreneur with a video service that gets grandparents and adults to tell their stories--which will be a cherished memory by their children when they are no longer with us. When he couldn't find a job, he created one.

I had to do the same during the Texas recession of the 80's. Millions more will find that creating your own job is better than waiting for one that you never get. In fact, I ended up creating several of them. I didn't become Bernie Madoff (thankfully) but I survived. One of them is growing like wildfire despite the economy. So it has opened new doors that never would be possible if a recession had not thrown me from my Fortune 500 comfort zone over two decades ago.

It won't be easy but it will make us a better country in the end.

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